Can You “Teach” How to Grow A Company?

The three obvious answers are yes, no, and maybe. I’ll start with an easy yes. You see, as adjunct faculty, that’s what I do. Yesterday, I finished “teaching” a three-hour course in the entrepreneurship program of the Cox School of Business at SMU. The course’s title was Leading a Growing Company; so literally, I just “taught” how to grow a company. The course book said I did, you see.

Whether or not the students learned anything of value, you’d have to ask them. Or, we can check in with them in about 20 years to see where things stand. Achieving the goal is another story entirely where the jury might be out for decades. I will say, in my defence , that even if they didn’t learn how to grow a company, they certainly were exposed to a wide variety of people who have been there and done it successfully. For example,

Veeral Rashod, founder of J.Hilburn. Veeral spoke to the class a few months ago. He’s only about 33 years old and yet his custom-made men’s clothing company is on track to bring in revenues of over $50MM. He has more than 1,500 sales associates. Veeral rocks right now, and my class adored hearing someone who is so close in age to themselves….Or Jill Frank who has parlayed her Internet marketing expertise into an online specialty bakery, The Dark Chocolate Bakery. Because they use expensive chocolate and lavish packaging, the cakes are costly. Yet, she successfully sells them over the Internet, with no storefront.  In business less than a year, Jill even merited a coveted spot in the Neiman Marcus holiday food catalogue featuring one of her cakes.Like Veerol and Jill, an exceptional list of people showed up at 8 am all winter long to talk to my students, sharing stories and examples of what they did and why.

Can you teach a person how to grow a company? Lots of people say, no, you can’t. Truthfully, I don’t know, nor do I think anyone knows for sure. What I do think is that exposing people, giving them examples and models of both successes and failures, is a damn good step in the right direction. What we can envision, we are more likely to achieve.

At heart, I am among other things, an entrepreneur. I thrive on new ideas and building things, so even though I’ll unlikely ever know if I made a difference or not; I sure as hell gave it my best shot.